ASX no solution to education - The Centre for Independent Studies
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ASX no solution to education

Could there be a more depressing statement about parents’ confidence in Australian schooling than a recent proposal that people invest in ASX education shares?

This followed on the heels of news that surging numbers of parents are hiring tutors to get their children up to speed in various areas of the curriculum.

The Motley Fool — which has a stated aim to “make the world smarter, happier and richer” — claims that “Given the weaknesses exposed in the education system, there are some companies listed on the ASX that could potentially help fill in the gaps.”

Tutoring has become a highly popular strategy for preparing students to take selective school entry examinations and reinforcing learning of all kinds, especially useful for students with disability or those who lack fluency in English.

But any significant increase in demand for tutoring is surely an indicator of what is not working in Australian schools.

Further, not every parent can afford paid tutoring. And few parents are skilled tutors in English, mathematics, science, history and all the other subjects that should be mastered as soon and as soundly as possible.

Policymakers have to stop fantasising about 21st century learning agendas and get the immediate challenges right.

This means developing far better curriculum, demanding the highest standards in teacher selection and training and ensuring nationally consistent classroom practices, especially in relation to e-learning and assessment and reporting.

When sharemarket tipsters such as Motley Fool identify increased investment in private education solutions as a reaction to perceived failings in Australian schooling, someone has to pay attention.  At the very least, relying on tutoring is no substitute for fixing an inadequate education system.

No child’s future should be a gamble on piecemeal policymaking that too often proposes replacing unsuccessful but very shiny things with more of the same.

For years, tens of thousands of Australian students have been leaving school without adequate skills in literacy and numeracy, not to mention their lack of knowledge in a range of rigorous disciplines.

The disruptions of 2020 — which the OECD says will impact education to cause decades of economic loss — will sentence many more to the same fate unless mistakes are acknowledged and policy accountability becomes the norm.